"Rather than hitting subsidies for some big agribusinesses, they're going after child and nutrition assistance that serves millions of children," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
Driving the GOP effort is a desire to avert a $55 billion cut — about 10 percent — to the Pentagon budget and a $43 billion cut to domestic agencies starting Jan. 1. There's bipartisan opposition to this so-called sequester, but it's not at all clear what part the cuts proposed by Republicans will play in any ultimate solution. Many budget observers believe any solution to the sequester, as well as what to do about the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts at the same time, will be postponed until after the November election.
For starters, Democrats controlling the Senate have no plans to advance a companion package of spending cuts. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., on Tuesday called off a vote scheduled for later this week on a resolution to counter the broad but nonbinding plan by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that passed the House. Conrad said he would instead launch a debate on the recommendation of Obama's bipartisan budget panel.
Separately, the House Financial Services Committee is slated to vote on a package of recycled cuts to the administration's financial overhaul bill, while the Oversight and Government Reform panel will vote on a plan to require federal workers to contribute more to their pensions.
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